ATLANTA — Procrastinators, rejoice. This year there are more apps and services than ever before to help last-minute shoppers.
Apps like Curbside deliver orders directly to the trunk of your car, more retailers are offering incentives to buy online and pick up in store, and Amazon Prime Now and other same-day delivery services have vastly expanded this year.
"In some sense, same-day delivery is going to become the new gift card," said Daphne Carmeli, CEO of Deliv which works with retailers to offer same-day delivery. "It used to be 'uh-oh, too late, here comes the gift card.' Now you've got two hours before the cutoff if you want something from national retailers."
That's good news as on-demand services have trained people to put off things until the last minute. This year, 44 per cent of shoppers said they planned to wait until December or later to shop for holiday presents, up from 39 per cent five years ago, according to Deloitte.
And as of Dec. 15, an NRF survey found the average holiday shopper has completed 53.5 per cent of their shopping, up from 52.9 per cent seen by that time last year. Only about 10 per cent of those surveyed had finished shopping.
Jaron Waldman, CEO of Palo Alto based Curbside, said that demand for the service, which delivers packages from stores like Target and Aeropostale to the trunk of a shopper's car, has skyrocketed.
The service, which serves the Bay Area and Los Angeles in California and New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Chicago, is seeing about seven times the orders it did last year. Target, Best Buy, CVS and other retailers offer the service.
"It's definitely a way to shop to have the certainty you're not going to miss any kind of shipping window," Waldman said.
Target spokesman Eddie Baeb said the company has been pleased with results from Curbside and expanded the stores that offer the service from 20 in San Francisco last year to 120 stores, adding the New York, Chicago and Philadelphia areas this year.
The curbside delivery is "easier and more convenient, knowing how busy people are," at the last-minute, he said.
Other retailers are adding incentives so more people choose "buy online, pick up in store" options. For example, Macy's offered a $10 e-gift card on a purchase of $50 or more when an online order is picked up in store via coupon aggregator RetailMeNot, said Brian Hoyt, RetailMeNot vice-president of communications. The option lets retailers save on expedited shipping costs and cuts down time for last-minute shoppers, he said.
RetailMeNot's mobile app lets shoppers take advantage of last-minute deals in store too. The app uses a combination of GPS and WiFi signals to pull deals from stores you are in or nearby when you opt in.
"More consumers are using mobile devices versus desktop computers to shop, and that's opened the door to save not just online, but in-store as well," Hoyt said.
Those seeking deals on same-day delivery will find them, too. Shopify, which provides merchants with online checkout services, said last week that its retailers were partnering with Uber to provide free same-day delivery until Christmas Eve.
And for members of Amazon's $99 annual Prime loyalty program, it's same-day Prime Now service has expanded drastically this year, after launching a year ago in Manhattan only. This holiday season it serves 20 metropolitan areas and is offering free two-hour delivery until midnight on Christmas Eve.
All of these added apps and services are good news for people like Katie Bagley, 23, who lives in Mount Olive, N.J. She shops mostly online and pays close attention to shipping cutoff deadlines. But there's always more shopping left to be done after the cutoff dates have passed, she said.
With Christmas approaching, she bought a bartender gadget online at Bed Bath and Beyond for her father and picked it up in the store on the same day she ordered it.
"I come from an entire family of last-minute shoppers," she said.
Mae Anderson, The Associated Press